Australians Cheer As U.S. Firefighters Arrive To Help Fight Bushfires

by Christina Marfice

More firefighters from around the world are arriving to help Australia, and scenes from their airport welcomes are heartwarming

Australia’s bush fire crisis rages on, and it’s reached the point where local firefighters could use a helping hand. So that’s what the world is giving them. Fire crews from the United States and Canada have reached Australia, and both received heartwarming welcomes from people at the airport who saw them arrive.

Shane Fitzsimmons, commissioner of New South Wales Rural Fire Service, caught a video of one of the first American crews arriving to the airport in Sydney, gear in hand, where they were met by cheers and applause from crowds that had gathered in the airport to welcome them to Australia.

This is the first time since 2010 that the U.S. has sent firefighters to Australia, which typically battles bush fires on a yearly basis. Because of factors related to climate change that have caused unusually dry conditions and abnormally warm, windy weather, this year’s fires have been the worst Australia has dealt with in decades. The National Interagency Fire Center, which is the U.S. agency that’s coordinating American efforts to help with the fires in Australia, told the Los Angeles Times that around 100 firefighters had been sent so far, with “50 to 60 more planned to be dispatched” this week.

But the U.S. isn’t the only country that’s lending a helping hand. Canada has also sent fire crews over for the first time ever. Those crews were also greeted at the airport by cheers and applause from bystanders.

Australia is certainly welcoming the help. The fires have been absolutely devastating. They’ve been burning since before Christmas, and in that time, have covered an area of more than 31,000 square miles. 25 people have been killed so far. 2,000 homes have been destroyed. And wildlife experts estimate the fires will leave more than a billion animals dead, with 30 percent of koalas’ natural habitat destroyed by the blaze. Things are truly dire in Australia.

Many of us around the world feel helpless watching all of this unfold, but firefighters aren’t the only ones who can help. If you have money to spare, you can donate to the Australian Red Cross, Salvation Army Australia, and NSW Rural Fire Service. To help support Australia’s wildlife, World Wildlife Fund Australia, Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service (WIRES), Zoos Victoria’s bushfire emergency wildlife fund, Australia Zoo’s Wildlife Hospital, and Port Macquarie Koala Hospital are all good organizations to donate to. And to support the people and small businesses directly affected by the blaze, this Instagram account shows where you can buy local goods from small businesses in the fire’s path.